Building Homes for Heroes and the 11/11 Pledge with Jim Rogers

On this episode of “The Building Code,” Paul is chatting with Jim Rogers, returning podcast guest and director of development and communication at the nonprofit organization Building Homes for Heroes. Jim is here to talk more about the organization and how you can get involved.

Listen to the full episode to learn more about the 11/11 Pledge and the many other ways Building Homes for Heroes is positively impacting the lives of veterans.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2021?

  • Reach our goal of gifting 300 homes by the end of 2021
  • Complete six new construction homes
  • Complete 30 to 35 home renovations
  • Complete 10 to 15 home modifications
  • Continue to gift a home every 11 days on average

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE 11/11 PLEDGE?

A couple of years ago, we did what we called the 11/11 Pledge as a fundraiser to have people donate $11 and ask 11 of their friends to do the same. It’s now developed into a process where we pledge to give 11 homes in 11 weeks between Sept. 11 and Veteran’s Day each year.

LINKS AND MORE

Learn more about Building Homes for Heroes, how to get involved and how to nominate a deserving veteran by visiting their website.

You can also follow along with their inspiring work and get involved on social media.

Listen to “The Building Code” on YouTube! And be sure to head over to Facebook to join The Building Code Crew fan page for some fun discussions with fellow listeners.

Jim Rogers | Building Homes for Heros

Paul Wurth:

Everybody, welcome to “The Building Code.” I’m your host Paul Wurth, and we are in episode 96. We have Building Homes for Heroes, Jim Rogers is on the podcast, he is a recurring guest. You can go back to episode nine and listen to the first one live from BTU. But we’re very happy to have Jim here on the podcast, we’re talking about something very important. Obviously, we’re going to hear a little bit about Building Homes for Heroes and their organization and the charitable work they do for veterans. But we’re also going to focus on the 11-11 Pledge, which is an honor of Veterans Day. So, have a listen, we are very excited to have Jim here. Welcome to the podcast.

Jim Rogers:

Hi, thanks so much, Paul, always a pleasure to connect with you guys.

Paul Wurth:

Yeah, absolutely. So, recurring guest, Jim Rogers here is from Building Homes for Heroes, an organization that we work closely with for a number of years here at Buildertrend. One of our fantastic partners. We’re very happy to be contributing to any way we can to your organization. For the listeners who don’t know, I think the great place to start here Jim, is what is Building Homes for Heroes? Tell us a little bit about your focus and the goals you guys have for that company.

Jim Rogers:

Certainly, Building Homes for Heroes is a national nonprofit that builds custom homes from the ground up and renovates existing homes to meet the needs of wounded veterans or injured after 9/11. The organization was founded … Our CEO and Founder, Andy Pujol, volunteered for a couple of weeks at Ground Zero after 9/11. He was greatly moved by his experience, profoundly moved, and he wanted to do something to serve his country. In doing so, the days a week followed after that, he began to see the military folks coming home severely injured, and saw them struggling to survive and to heal and recover from their injuries. He decided he wanted to give away one mortgage free home, and from that, we’ve developed to approaching 250 homes by the end of this year to be gifted mortgage free to wounded veterans and their families in over 33 different states.

Paul Wurth:

The initial idea was one home to a veteran coming home and make it easy on them, no mortgage. And so, that’s been like what? 19 years now, is that right?

Jim Rogers:

It’s been since 2006.

Paul Wurth:

2006. OK. You guys are about 14 years in … What does the organization look like today? What I mean by that specifically, how many people are involved full-time like yourself, and how many homes or projects are you guys doing average within the last couple of years, and what are some of your goals?

Jim Rogers:

Certainly, we grew from that first time period in 2006, where everyone’s volunteers to whereabout. I think we’re up to like 16 or 17 employees right now. The majority of them are based in the home office in New York, but we still have a handful, about four or five of us that are out in the field. And so, we travel to events and projects, we’re very light and efficient in our overhead. About 93, 94 cents of every dollar donated or support, goes back out the door to support the programs for the wounded veterans and their families. An ongoing goal that we have is to, first of all, we’d like to get up to 300 homes here as soon as we possibly can, certainly by the end of 2021.

That’s new construction, home renovations and modifications. New construction, we’re looking to do about six homes in 2021, about 30 to 35 renovations, and about 10 to 15 modifications for wounded veterans and their families. And so, we try to keep pace to gift one home every 11 days on average. We certainly want to sustain that pace, and we’ve been pushing hard to continue to do that even this year.

Paul Wurth:

That 11-a-day mark, is that a specific number that means something to you guys?

Jim Rogers:

It’s important because it ties very much to our focus on veterans, ties very much to Veterans Day 11/11. It’s a pace that we recognize we had achieved at a point there where we wanted to sustain it and invite more people to help us not only sustain that goal, but also to increase our ability to go gift, more homes than that. But significantly, it’s tied very much as a symbolic reference to veterans and Veterans Day.

Paul Wurth:

We definitely want to get into 11/11. That’s really the crux of why we wanted to bring you on. This podcast is going to be released on 11/12, and so, let’s talk about that in a little bit. But first I want to say, what an amazing opportunity it is for you guys to do this for the vets. Again, you do that in mainly three ways, new homes, renovations, and then you said modifications. And I think modifications are really important for listeners to understand, which is, a lot of the veterans are coming home with some sort of disability, and they need to modify their living space to help them live more comfortably. Is that accurate?

Jim Rogers:

That is accurate indeed. These are modifications that are done for veterans who own their own home or in a secure home where they can live comfortably, but they need some changes. This could be some emergency repairs for a roof, ramps, bathrooms, kitchen modifications, any of these things that they may need in order to be able to heal and recover from their injuries. And so, we certainly strive to do that. This is a program that has its own application process for the veterans, and that can happen just about anywhere in the country. We’re always looking for veterans that we can help in that way.

Paul Wurth:

That’s a question I had. How do you guys pick and connect with the specific veterans on these different styles of projects?

Jim Rogers:

Lot of times, it’s word of mouth. We get referrals, obviously, from some of the military organizations, the Special Operations Command, the Air Force, Special Operations, Army, Care Coalition. These folks refer these wounded veterans to us. A lot of veterans know other veterans, and they refer people to us. The same with home modifications, a lot of that has been referral word of mouth. We do reach out to veterans organizations in various states where we can find developed relationships and contacts for that sort of thing. But we really do try to get the word out as best we can. So, this venue is a good way of doing that. Just as a reminder to your listeners, our target demographic for our charity is wounded veterans who were injured after 9/11. That’s anyone after 2004 time period who were injured after that time period.

Paul Wurth:

We’ll definitely spread the message, and our listeners do a great job of chipping in where they can. And so, we’ll end this episode with how people can get involved. I think that’s a really important takeaway here. I know that you had mentioned 11/11, and that has a big significance for you and your organization. Can you tell me a little bit about 11/11 and the 11-11 Pledge?

Jim Rogers:

11/11 is Veterans Day. We certainly try to get the word out and be part of that education process to our nations citizens, to learn and understand and recognize the service of so many of the people in their communities who served in the military. Our primary focus is to bring greater awareness and understanding to the subject of Veterans Day. A couple of years ago, we did a … We’ll call it 11-11 Pledge, where it was more kind of a fundraiser aspect to donate $11, asked 11 of your friends to do same. This is now developed into a process where we pledged to give 11 homes in 11 weeks between September 11th and 9/11 and Veteran’s Day, each year. We are right in the middle of this process now gifting homes to wounded veterans.

As a matter of fact, this morning, we gifted a mortgage free home to one veteran in Fayetteville, N.C., and a week ago we did another one also in Fayetteville, Ark. We’re on our march to sustain that, what we like to call, our heart pumping phase, of making sure we get one home every 11 days, particularly in this time period to wounded veterans and their families. Because in the end, is not just the veteran. This is a very relevant thing that we’re doing to serve the wounded veteran community. But also this is very meaningful for the families who have to be uprooted, and their whole lives are changed because of the injuries, the veterans, a whole lifestyle change. This is very significant in that, mortgage-free home is a generational gift that is going to be handed down from parents to children. It will be a life story that will be told for many, many years to come. And so, it was very relevant, meaningful, and significant thing, the 11-11 Pledge.

Paul Wurth:

Absolutely super impactful stuff you guys are doing. If you want to see that home and all of the different gifts that they have for homes, and renovations, and modifications, I would definitely recommend … obviously, there’s a website for you, but let’s go to social media. Your Instagram handle is @buildinghomesforheroes, all one word, all lowercase, check them out, give them a follow, and you can definitely see when you guys are gifting these homes. It seems very impactful. Obviously, you said, I didn’t think about generational and the story there, that makes a ton of sense. So, 11-11 Pledge is something that we’re keeping our eyes on right now. That’s from 9/11 to 11/11. Again, when this podcast comes out, that’ll happen. Other than that, when we talk about what we’re doing today, obviously, we want to bring up the pandemic that we’ve all been through here in 2020. It’s impacted companies, and nonprofits, and really everybody in different ways. I think it makes sense for us to ask that question for you. How has the pandemic impacted your organization positively, negatively, or anyway, just get the word out.

Jim Rogers:

That is an excellent question because just like everyone else, all the listeners that you have on this podcast, there was a lot of questions towards the end of March about what the future held and what this year was going to be like for Building Homes for Heroes and the potential veterans, we are going to be able to serve. We knuckled down and realized that one of the primary things that we could do, by sheltering in place, and staying home, and working from home, is that we could expand our emergency funding program to support wounded veterans and their families across the country with financial support during this very difficult time. And so, since about April, we’ve assisted over 300 home recipients, applicants and veterans who applied with a $500 financial support. And we’ve gifted out almost $180,000 just about to go out and help wounded veterans and their families.

Throughout this time, we were still had contractors out working on renovations. We started again, gifting homes in June. We started out slowly, we did a drive-by kind of event, and we are going to gradually increasing those so that we’re starting to get more on pace. Springfield, Mo., Bentonville, Ark., the homes are now starting to come out again. And so, we’re going to be able to finish up our schedule. We’re very much hoping to be able to finish up our schedule. We’ve also been very blessed with, ongoing support to keep the charity going throughout this time period. So, we’ve been very, very blessed with that and we want to thank anyone who’s been supplying support and donations to Building Homes for Heroes. It’s been a tremendous year so far.

Paul Wurth:

That’s amazing to hear. So, you guys knuckled down like everybody did, but you powered through and you guys are fighting to still achieve the goals that you set for 2020, right?

Jim Rogers:

Absolutely. This mission doesn’t end.

Paul Wurth:

Our listeners definitely want to find out how they can help. Before I go there with you, I want to bring it to you. You, obviously, have dedicated a ton of time, many years. I know, again, we’ve been working with your organization for a handful of years and we’ve met personally because again, you were on an episode, I believe it was episode nine of “The Building Code” podcast. You were an early one, and you’re recurring guests now. So, buckle up we’re going to ask your back. We always want to check in with Jim, from Building Homes for Heroes. What is it about this organization for you, what do you get out of it, and what is the driving part for you to be a part of this?

Jim Rogers:

For me, first of all, I’m a veteran myself. I’m retired from the Air Force I’ve over 20 years of service. And so, doing this kind of work make sense to me. On a more personal note though, it’s a tremendous feeling and understanding that your work that you do has an ongoing impact beyond the day of the product output, which is the mortgage free home, in this case. This is something where we see veterans who recover from their injuries and learn to do things that they were figured they would never be able to do. We’ve got a mission to climb all the seven summits of all the seven continents and even attempted Mount Everest once already, and is working to try to do that, again. We have veterans who start businesses and suddenly start growing their families. Because the life situation is grown and situation has changed where there’s peace and stability in the home for these things to be able to happen.

People go back to school. We’ve had a blind wounded veteran go back to school and get his bachelor’s degree. We’ve got people going back to school, we’ve got people starting businesses. But in the end, when you submit a veteran who you gifted a home to a year ago, and you come back, and you see them again, after a period of time, and you can see the way the world seems to have been lifted off their shoulders, there’s a lightness about them and quicker smiles happen. And you just know that you’re part of something that is truly changing and impacting lives in a very powerful way. It’s very hard to put into a few words.

Paul Wurth:

I think you nailed it.

Jim Rogers:

It was incredible to be able to do that, be part of something like that.

Paul Wurth:

It seems so impactful. Again, we’re talking about veterans. They go, and they join the armed forces and they go out and protect all of us. And when they come back and they’re wounded, there’s a lot to adjust to. The home is really the heart of that. If you can give them a stable, comfortable place, you see how that ripple effects within their daily lives. I think that’s so impactful and thanks to you, thanks for your service and things, all the people that you guys help in their service as well, Buildertrend is very proud to be in any small way, a part of that and helped you. So, thanks for letting us be a partner to you.

The most important thing to take away here, the call to action is, how can somebody help? I know talking to you in the past, Jim, there’s a million different sort of segments. How can I help as a builder? How can I help as a vendor? How can I help as just a citizen who wants to financially donate? I know there’s a million different ways, but can you pinpoint maybe a handful of them, of how somebody who’s listening to this podcast, who’s been positively impacted by it, how they can tell their friends and family to help?

Jim Rogers:

Certainly, Paul. The easiest way to get their friends and family to help is like you’ve said a few minutes ago, start with following us on social media, see what we have going on, see how you might be able to help spread the word about Building Homes for Heroes, share. You can share the stories, share what we’re doing, share the story, share the veteran stories, the impact that’s happening. Invite customers, suppliers, partners, to also be supporting Building Homes for Heroes. You can develop opportunities for folks. One of the things that we’ve been doing this year to help give homes away is, we’ve had partners guest host. Some of our sponsors and partners guest hosting events. We’ve had some of those in Maryland and Springfield, Missouri, and in Fayetteville today, was a guest host as a company, they’re volunteering to help gift a home.

If we’re in an area near, you can volunteer to help us put on a home ceremony or volunteer day before the ceremony. There’s events sponsorships that are happening. In other ways, if truly moved, and you want to do something on a long-term basis, you can develop things within your company that could be for employee payroll deduction. Something we’re looking at developing is a program called Change for Change, to work with companies where employees can donate the change from their paycheck, and it’s just less than a dollar. So, those kinds of little things really spread along way to helping us continue to support our wounded veterans. Point of sale campaigns, but … anything like that. I’m happy to work with anyone to figure out the best way to help folks reach the goals that they have in supporting wounded veterans. That’s my role, is help you get to where you want to be and supporting on the veterans and how you’d like to do that. So, by all means, Facebook, social media, reach out to us, easy to find.

Paul Wurth:

I think that’s always the thing is, people here really moving stories like this one and they want to know how they can help in. Dropping that barrier of entry is probably number one. So, I think it’s fair to repeat, that you can reach out to any number of different avenues from the website you guys have, to the social media channels, direct message anybody there, and then you can probably set them on the path of how they can help, which makes more sense for them.

Jim Rogers:

Certainly.

Paul Wurth:

We really, really appreciate you coming back on the podcast. Again, you’re a recurring guest for “The Building Code,” a small handful of people get that honor. So, we really appreciate that. Obviously, we love what you and your organization are doing for veterans. Something that’s very near and dear to our hearts here at Buildertrend.

I want to give you a huge thank you from our company and all of our listeners here. Again, if you want to get involved, which we highly recommend you do, there’s a number of different ways to do that. Don’t forget about, if you know a veteran that could use help, that’s definitely something that Jim and his team are looking for. So, mention that to him through any of the channels that you’re communicating.

Jim, we really appreciate what you guys do. We love the 11-11 Pledge. You can check that out on their social media channels. And obviously as recurring guests, we’re going to ask you back on. So, we wish you best of luck in 2021. I think we’re all looking forward to getting to 2021, setting some goals.

Jim Rogers:

Yeah.

Paul Wurth:

So, stay tuned for having Jim and his organization back on in 2021, we’re going to check in on you guys. And again, thank you so much for coming on board. Alright, everyone. Thanks again for listening to this episode of “The Building Code,” remember to rate, review and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Help us grow this community of listeners, tell your friends, tell your family, we do appreciate it. If you heard anything that you want to learn more about on today’s episode, head out to the show notes website, buildertrend.com/podcast. As always, we appreciate you.


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